Wages projected to increase 3.2 percent in 2018 in northern Colorado, one of highest increases in the state | MyWindsorNow.com

Wages projected to increase 3.2 percent in 2018 in northern Colorado, one of highest increases in the state

Katarina Velazquez
kvelazquez@greeleytribune.com

Employers in northern Colorado plan to raise average wages about 3.2 percent next year, one of the largest percentage increases in the state, according to a survey conducted by Mountain States Employers Council.

The annual survey asked employers what they plan to pay the average employee in 2017 and 2018, then compared those wages with what employers paid workers in 2016, according to Sue Wolf, director of surveys at MSEC, whose employers consist of large and small businesses across the state. About 60 organizations from Larimer, Logan, Morgan and Weld counties participated in the survey for northern Colorado, and other surveyed areas include Denver/Boulder, southern Colorado, the Western Slope and resort areas. A total of 491 organizations participated in the state, reaching nearly 45,000 workers.

Employers in northern Colorado, on average, will raise the typical employee's base wage 3.2 percent, Wolf said. That is on par with the resort areas' expected pay rate increase, while the average across the state is estimated at 3 percent, the survey results showed. Northern Colorado was one of the first areas in the state that anticipated wages to increase above 3 percent in 2017, Wolf said, while the study showed it at a 2.9 percent average increase in 2016.

"(The rate) has been trending upward since the recession for all of Colorado; and for Denver/Boulder, this is the first time it is over 3 percent," Wolf said.

Colorado's unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the country at 2.3 percent, with Weld County's unemployment matching that in May and Fort Collins' at 2.1 percent. Northern Colorado's low unemployment rate could explain why the Front Range's wage rate is increasing faster and higher than other areas in the state.

Rich Werner, CEO of Upstate Colorado Economic Development, said the low unemployment rate puts pressure on employers to raise their wages to get and keep their employees.

Recommended Stories For You

"There's a pressure on the economy as it relates to needing workers and having to pay them," he said. "With a 2 percent unemployment rate, companies are finding they have to pay a little more."

Werner said the growing economy plays a large part into the yearly average wage increase, as well.

"It speaks to the extended growth that Weld County is having," he said. "Primary jobs are creating wealth, so when you have an increase in primary jobs, you have an increase in wealth in communities, and that will consequently raise the average wage."

Wolf also said the competitive market plays into the higher increase of pay rates.

"I would certainly think that employers are doing what they can as far as pay to attract, as well as retain, employees in this tight labor market," Wolf said.

In northern Colorado, Wolf said the industries that anticipate the higher wage increases in 2018 include service (for example, professional consulting firms) at 4.1 percent average increases, manufacturing at 3.6 percent, and utilities, transportation and communications at 3.2 percent.

The survey also asked employers what job groups were most difficult to recruit or retain. According to Wolf, northern Colorado employers reported they have the largest challenge finding workers in the skilled trades and manufacturing production at 27 percent, followed by professional technical positions, such as jobs in computers, engineering or science, at 17 percent. Following those results were unskilled workers at 17 percent and professional, non-management staff at 15 percent.

Pay increase projections for 2018

A survey conducted by Mountain States Employers Council asked 491 organizations around the state what they plan to pay the average employee in 2017 and 2018, then compared that wage to what employers actually paid workers in 2016. Here are the projected pay increases average workers can anticipate to be added to their base wages in 2018.

» All Colorado — 3 percent

» Denver/Boulder — 3.1 percent

» Northern Colorado — 3.2 percent

» Southern Colorado — 3 percent

» Western Slope — 2.4 percent

» Resort Areas — 3.2 percent

Source: Mountain States Employers Council survey

Go back to article